An Italian Interlude

in which I right an error of my first trip to Venice, meet my mother, and visit another city that had been the object of academic pursuits.

Our train arrived in Venice at 8:30 in the morning, and my plan had been to put my stuff in a locker and head off to see San Marco’s Basilica, something I had missed out on during my only other trip to the city two years ago. The lockers all conveniently out of order, I scoffed at the 8€ it would cost me to put my stuff away and set out to explore the city on foot. In my defense, it wasn’t just my cheapness that led me to do this–I only had 12€ in my wallet, thanks to the number Vienna had done on it, and I didn’t want to waste most of my funds on stupid storage. And thus, I set out.

Now, I like Venice. I find it its falling-apart-sort-of-way, the city has a certain Old World charm. I love the way the narrow, claustrophobic streets wind around through the various canals, and the lack of cars is truly wonderful. I headed over to the Basilica, where I was grateful to discover that I could leave my bags for free for an hour while I waited to see the cathedral. I did so, and let’s just say, the cathedral impresses. Though its just as (or perhaps even more so) obnoxiously over-the-top as any cathedral I’ve seen (Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseilles and the Notre Dame in Lyon spring to mind), it feels somehow more authentic. And I just sat and stared for a good half hour, glad to be rid my things and having more time than I even really wanted.After my slow circle through the church, I collected my stuff and headed back to the train station along another route, pausing for a cappuccino, then a bit of gelato and a pair of earrings (a real splurge at 2,50€). At the train station, I promptly found my mother, and we took off immediately for our next destination: Trieste. Unfortunately, in our desire to get moving, we ended up on the slow regional train, so it took three hours, instead of two. But, all’s well that ends well, and after a bit of confusion (and me running into a bookstore to look at a map of Trieste in a guidebook to Italy), we found our hotel, dropped off our stuff and headed out to explore the city.

Our first stop was the castle in the city, which houses a small museum and offers excellent views on the city. More worthwhile for the latter than the former, though the museum was nice, too.

The old port of Trieste, something I researched once upon a time. As seen from the Castello.

After our visit to the castle, we continued on, stopping in the nearby church, which was unique enough.

Inside San Sivestro, in Trieste.

And then, we headed down towards the Piazza dell’Unità, a very Austro-Hungarian square. In fact, I was struck by the overwhelming Habsburg feeling of the city (a theme of the trip, it seemed–between Vienna, Bratislava, Trieste, and the non-Alpine parts of Slovenia, at least).

Piazza dell'Unità, Trieste.

The square looked right out onto the sea.

Palazzo del Governo, Trieste.

Of course, that meant one thing.

Yes, my feet needed to go in. It'd been a long time since I'd touched the Mediterranean, after all. This is, of course, technically the Gulf of Trieste, but you know, it's all the same.

We had a lovely dinner, where we were preyed upon for conversation by some NYC history grad student who had heard us speaking English (why do Americans believe that speaking English is a sign that you want to go into conversation?!? After about 3 minutes, I wanted out of the conversation, though we continued to talk some 20 minutes).

My mother was quite a trooper, considering we had met in Venice after her international flight, but even she had her limits. And so, we grabbed a quick gelato to go and headed back to our hotel. Our short time in Italy had been, after all, only a short stop en route to Slovenia, our actual destination–a convenient way to see somewhere new without straying too far from Venice (so that we could recover in the event of any sort of delay). And thus, it had been a full day, and we called it a night. And the following morning, after a nice breakfast and a quick foray to see the synagogue (one of the largest in Europe!), we caught a 12:30 bus onwards to Piran, on the Slovenian Adriatic coast. But Slovenia is a story for another post. Or several, as the case may be. And thus ended the lovely Italian interlude.

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